MUNCIE — When Cowan students, fans and alumni went to bed Friday night, they did so without knowing the feeling of calling one of their teams state champions.
That all changed early Saturday, when the Blackhawk volleyball team rolled to the Class A title in Worthen Arena, beating Loogootee in five sets for the school’s first state championship in any sport.
The victory kept the Class A title within the boundaries of Delaware County for a second straight year, as Wes-Del won it last year.
Cowan’s Malllory Bruner won the Class A mental attitude award.
Saturday, coach Pancho Alvarez’s team was dominant early, controlling every facet of the game in the first two sets. But Loogootee’s defense improved in the third set, and that helped create a big turnaround, with the Lions winning 25-14. In that set, Cowan committed 10 hitting errors, compared to only eight in the first two sets combined.
The fourth set was back and forth, with several ties, including at 21-21 after Cowan scored three straight points. But Loogootee came back with four of its own for a 25-21 win to force the fifth set.
The fifth set was close throughout. Down 11-8, Cowan reeled off three straight points to tie it, capped by an ace from Madisen Mangus.
A deft touch kill to the back corner from Malorie Weisheit made it 12-11 Cowan, and another point made it 13-11, with Mangus still serving.
A couple of hitting errors by Cowan kept it close, but the Blackhawks finished the set, and the match, with an Audrey Jones kill. Just the way the match started at 11 a.m.
Cowan was led by Mallory Bruner with 14 kills, and Kristina Flowers had 13. Valorie Flick had 26 digs.
Cowan played the early part of the match with confidence, and seemed completely relaxed on the big stage. Unforced errors were rare, and during a couple of timeouts, players could be seen dancing to the music playing on the P.A. system.
The Blackhawks finished with a season record of 27-10 and won their final eight matches, last losing to Providence in early October. Loogootee finished 34-5.
Cowan’s state title ended a sting of eight state finals appearances without winning, including playing in the championship match in 1999 and 2000.